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Amid Crackdown, Prisoner in Iran Encourages Faithful to Stand Strong

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In the face of a crackdown that has crippled Iran’s house-church leadership, an imprisoned convert from Islam has managed to sneak a message of encouragement to Iran’s Christians.

With Iran’s house churches mushrooming even as the government has imprisoned or harassed most pastors into exile, a Christian held in Rajai Shahr Prison in Karaj last week exhorted Iranian Christians to expect persecution but to continue proclaiming Christ.

“If you are courageous in God’s way, God’s grace will be with you,” 31-year-old Ebrahim Firouzi stated. “Do not fear what you are doing, and raise the banner of Jesus in the name of God.”

Paraphrasing encouragements by New Testament writers, Firouzi asked, “If you want to do good to others, who can harm you? … Keep your conscience clean so that people will be ashamed if they cause you harm. If it is God’s will that you should suffer, it is better to suffer for doing good.”

The message comes at a particularly dark time for Christians in Iran, where the government has left only a few if any Farsi-language churches open, according to advocacy group Middle East Concern (MEC), which confirmed the authenticity of the message. Christians have no other option but to hold meetings in homes, which are illegal and heavily persecuted.

“Now that the ‘official’ [government-allowed] churches have been closed, there is nowhere they can go to that they can freely worship the Lord, and this is something that has affected a lot of people,” said Rob Duncan, MEC’s region manager for Iran. “[The Persian speakers] are being forced into house churches; they have no practical alternative.”

Read more at FCNN.com…

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